Dreams Come True

Waupaca man credits quality of care at Riverside Medical Center

Waupaca native Brad Navin just completed his first year as a forward on the University of Wisconsin Badgers hockey team, a dream that was threatened in 2011 when a severe knee injury left him unable to finish his senior year of hockey at Waupaca High School.

“It was a bummer not being able to play my senior year,” said Navin, 20. “I’ve been playing hockey since I was 4.”

However, exceptional quality of care from the physical therapists at Riverside Medical Center (RMC) had him back on the ice and ready to join the Division 1 hockey team. “From what I know from physical therapy I would say it was top-notch,” said Navin. “I knew they knew what they were doing.”

The accident happened during a regular season high school game in January 2011 when Brad collided with a player from the other team. “I knew something was wrong with my knee,” he said.

He tried to skate through the pain but couldn’t. The ride home was long and painful. He tried not to dwell on what the injury could mean for his future in hockey. “I didn’t really think about that,” he said. “I didn’t really want to do the whole surgery process.”

Testing concluded that he had torn his Medial Collateral Ligament ( MCL ) completely off the bone. Fortunately, surgery was not required but his hopes of playing Division 1 hockey were in jeopardy. “Once I heard I didn’t need surgery, I just tried to stay confident and do whatever I could physical therapy-wise,” said Navin. “It was a long recovery process. I was in a knee brace but that was about it. I was never on crutches.”

Navin worked hard at therapy two or three times a week. His therapists pushed him through range of motion exercises, general strengthening exercises and finally specific drills and scenarios to ensure he would do well once he returned to the ice. “RMC has three separate therapists who have competed in sports at the collegiate level and therefore understand the demands of an elite college program,” said Bruce Pierson, physical therapist and manager of Rehab Services at RMC.

Navin’s primary physical therapist worked closely with Navin’s physician, James Mitchell, MD, from Orthopaedic Specialists, to follow specific guidelines and timelines of healing. “This was to ensure consistency in the rehab program along with good carryover from one facility to the other,” said Pierson.

Navin said the university coaches and doctors were also informed of his progress and were confident with his treatments in Waupaca. “They knew the knowledge of the physical therapist here,” he said.

 By the end of Navin’s rehab, he was performing high-level skate specific drills that would then transfer over to the ice once he was released to skate. His first game back was March 18, exactly nine weeks after his injury.

By returning to the ice so quickly, Navin participated in individual workouts for several college hockey scouts. He was offered a full scholarship from the University of Wisconsin. And in the 2011 National Hockey League Draft, he was selected in the seventh round by the Buffalo Sabres.

Navin is ready for his sophomore season with the Badgers. He remarked that he had “no problems all season long” with his knee and hopes it will continue that way as his career progresses,

Navin credits the physical therapy staff at RMC for helping him and providing the guidance and encouragement he needed to make it safely through his injury.

“We see Brad as one of our own now,” said Pierson. “We wish him the best in his hockey career and look forward to seeing him on the ice in the future.”